Pennsylvania agriculture employs nearly a half million people and contributes $185 billion a year to the state’s economy, so it is smart to invest in the continuing growth and future of this vital industry.

State officials did some on that this week when they announced nearly $1 million in state grants will be awarded this year to schools and youth organizations that promote agriculture, community leadership, vocational training and peer fellowship. In addition, nearly $536,000 was awarded to schools to help improve access to healthy local foods and increase agriculture education opportunities for elementary students.

“Young people are the future of Pennsylvania agriculture and their teachers, programs, field trips and access to fresh foods frame their relationship with and understanding of ag,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said during a grant announcement ceremony at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which continues through Saturday in Harrisburg.

“This $1.5 million will spark new interests in farming by connecting students to agriculture education, while also improving access to nutritious foods,” Redding said.

The Danville Area School District will receive a $7,500 grant through the state’s Agriculture and Youth Grant Program, which funds eligible agriculture, leadership or training programs primarily involving youth.

The West Perry School District in Perry County was awarded a grant totaling $11,937 through the Farm to School program for its initiative to teach agricultural science concepts to fourth graders and take the children on field trips to local farms.

“West Perry School District is fortunate to engage our students in learning science authentically in many ways,” said Michele Dubaich, assistant superintendent in the West Perry School District. “The Agriscience Adventures project that our students and teachers will benefit from will include materials and lessons that address science standards and culminate with a visit to The LEAF farm in Landisburg, Pennsylvania, located in our district’s footprint,” she said.

The state Farm Show is a great way for anyone to learn much more about Pennsylvania agriculture. The show remains open every day this week at the state farm show complex in Harrisburg before closing at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

For much more information, visit the website at: farmshow.pa.gov.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.

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